The queue to get into Ireland at Dublin Airport on the eve of the same sex marriage referendum in May 2015
Brian Boyd makes some interesting observations on what is referred to as “Generation Snowflake”.
As he points out, it is the prerogative of every generation to look at the generation that succeeds it with an often unjustified sneer of pity and disdain. It was the meat that was dished out to us as teens by the generations that preceded us; and we took in so much of it that we want to impose the feast of our moral superiority on a generation whose only obligation, like the generations that preceded them, is to embrace knowledge and to take delight in their own youth and in the marvellous gift of life.
However, a major social experiment has occurred over the past 20 years that has elicited very little debate. The children coming into adulthood now are the first generation to be shaped by the internet.
Once upon a time our parents were charmed when we invented an imaginary friend; now children can have a thousand imaginary friends and we call it Facebook. Rather than interacting with the rough and tumble of real children, it is easier for children to sit in their rooms and morosely compare the amount of “likes” their picture receives in relation to others whom they can so easily perceive to be more attractive, affluent and intelligent than they.
A teenager won’t burn many calories staring at a screen, nor do they acquire much in the way of life skills. Depression and self-harm are a growing issue among the young. Rather than dealing with the individual when they have the courage to present themselves, or castigating a whole generation as “snowflakes”, we should perhaps ask ourselves how smart is it for adults to hand children smartphones and unrestricted access to the internet.
It is an issue that we need to take seriously, otherwise we may find that these “snowflakes” rapidly accumulate into a blizzard and change, not for the better, the fabric and culture of society.